Southern Railway dominates 34th All India Railway Team Championship after 16 years
Southern Railway clinched 34th All India Inter Railways Team Chess Championship 2022. This is their first triumph at this event after 16 years. They defeated the defending champions ICF in the third round by a minimum margin of 1.5-2.5. The winner scored 10/12 without conceding a single loss as a team and finished one point ahead of the runner-up ICF 9/12. South Central Railway scored sole 8/12 to secure third position. This was ICF's shortest reign as a champion in their past five reigns, as the previous edition took place in early January this year. However, they still managed to make a podium finish. Photo: IA R Anantharam
Defending champion ICF finishes second
After four successive wins and two draws, Southern Railway, Chennai won the 34th All India Railway Chess Championship with consummate ease, scoring ten match points in six rounds. The championship was organised by the East Coast Railway, Waltair at Visakhapatnam. With no grandmaster in its kitty, the all IMs team comprising NR Vignesh, K Ratnakaran, S Nitin, BT Murali Krishnan and Sai Agni Jeevitesh produced a splendid performance in the earlier rounds.
While Southern Railway blanked the SECR team by 4-0 margin, Integral Coach Factory, Chennai had a 3.5-0.5 win against the tough South Western Railway team in the first round. ICF had four Grandmasters – former National Rapid and Blitz champion Laxman R R, former Asian Junior champion Deepan J Chakkravarthy, young Visakh N R and Karthikeyan P. The only International Master in the team P Shyaam Nikhil is the second-highest rated player in the tournament.
GM Deepan and IM Ratnakaran K helped ICF and Southern Railway respectively to win their second round encounters against South Central Railway, Hyderabad and Western Railway, Mumbai respectively in the second round.
The loss of former National Blitz champion and GM Laxman R Rof ICF to the IM Vignesh N R in the third round tilted the result and also the course of the championship in favour of Southern Railway, as the other three games between them in the third round were drawn. On the other hand, Eastern Railway swept the match against Northern Railway, Delhi 4-0. In a tough match 3, South Central Railway, Hyderabad defeated Metro Railways of Kolkata with the narrowest margin 2.5-1.5, IMs Mehar Chinna Reddy and Rajesh Vav bringing victory to their team.
In a crucial encounter of the fourth round, Southern Railway overcame the stiff resistance from Eastern Railway. ICF had to be content with a draw against the Western Railway, the turning point being the loss of GM Karthikeyan to Amardeep Bartakke. South Western Railway drew with Metro, Kolkata, GM Thejkumar lost to IM Somak Palit.
Eyeing the title, Southern Railway agreed to split the points with South Central Railway in the fifth round. They had nine match points compared to the second placed ICF and South Central Railway who had seven points each, after five rounds.
In an exciting and exhilarating endgame, Deepan exhibited his prowess to score a critical win over IM Arghyadip Das, enabling ICF to win against the Eastern Railway team. It helped them to secure the runner-up spot. South Central Railway finished third with eight match points.
The championship was inaugurated by Anup Kumar Satpathy, Divisional Manager and president of ECoRSA, Visakhapatnam in the presence of the guest of honour HL Luwan G, Chief Commercial Manager, Bhubaneswar.
A total of 67 players including seven GMs and 18 IMs represented 14 teams of various railway divisions of Indian Railways. The four-day six-round Swiss League Team Championship was organized by East Coast Railways at Waltair Stadium in Vizag, Andhra Pradesh from 7th to 10th October 2022. The tournament had a time control of 90 minutes + 30 seconds increment from move no.1.
|3||4||South Central railway||6||3||2||1||8||15,5||209,5|
|5||8||South Western Railway||6||2||3||1||7||13,5||164,3|
|9||9||South Eastern Railway||6||3||0||3||6||12,5||89|
|10||11||East Coast Railway||6||2||1||3||5||10,5||71,3|
|11||12||West Central Railway||6||2||1||3||5||7,5||57,3|
|13||13||North West Railway||6||2||0||4||4||8||53|
About the Author
Prof. Rathinam Anantharam is an A-grade international arbiter. Member of FIDE Arbiters’ Commission, Chairman of Titles Commission in All India Chess Federation, Vice President of Tamil Nadu State Chess Association, Chief Arbiter for six world championships, many Asian, International and National Championships.
The article was edited by Shahid Ahmed